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21st Century Literacy
The Read/Write Web
**Web 2.0 TEAM Toolbox**
Gadgets & Widgets
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*New**: Added 11/30/07 -
- virtual classroom.
Via Rich W's Shared Items
by Rich White on Google Reader... 11/3/07
10 Chat Widgets to Consider
by Aidan Henry on 10/2/07
Embedded chat in a website provides the ability to more closely connect with your readers or customers, depending on the instance. Chat widgets provide real-time feedback and spur thought-provoking discussions - features lacking in e-mail. However the disadvantages should be acknowledged too. In some cases, widgets may slow down the page load or take away from the overall site experience rather than enhance it. However I encourage everyone to give some of the following chat widgets a try and make your own conclusions. Let's take a look at some of the top ones...
is the leader in the space. This spin-off of the original multiple client chat (
) is a nice, simple chat widget. It features publisher status, user nickname editing, and sound control. Also be sure to check out
, launched earlier this year.
is a slick little chat widget that enables you to talk with site visitors via your IM client. In other words, you can work as usual without having to keep an eye on the chat box. Then if someone initiates a chat, a message will pop up on your IM. Great concept.
is a simple, basic chat widget. No frills or gimmicks. It has an easy set-up process and intuitive interface, which makes this a good choice if you're looking to add a little something extra to your site.
is beautifully designed Flash chat widget. Some might call it overkill though. Site owners can choose a vertical or horizontal layout, as well as the color. Nicely designed, but it may take away from the rest of your site.
is a more sophisticated chat offering. I found the sign up process to be a bit tedious, but the end product was worth it. The company launched a
in May of this year.
[disclosure: Userplane is a R/WW sponsor]
is highly functional and robust, yet it's also a cumbersome service. I found the interface and color scheme to be a bit childish, although I suppose the service is tailored as a more 'fun' offering than some of the others.
is a slick, multi-user chat widget. The service also provides RSS and audio functionality. I found it to be a pretty good overall offering, unless you're looking for something extremely basic.
is a personalized chat widget. The set-up was easy, yet it still provided a high level of customization. The interface wasn't the slickest, but it was intuitive. Overall though, I thought Chatango was mediocre.
was one of my favorite services that I tested. It is extremely easy to set-up and very slick. The widget is very simple to use and professional-looking.
[disclosure: Zoho is a R/WW sponsor]
is more of an application than a widget. The embedded chat box is a "presence" and feels like it's part of the website. However the look n' feel is very web 1.0 and the ads take away from the experience. Overall, I wasn't overly impressed.
The implementation of a chat widget should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Not all websites may benefit, as some people may not have the time or resources to operate the technology. Having said that, the ability to facilitate real-time, pertinent discussions cannot be understated. Check out one or more of the above chat widgets and let us know what you think. Also if you know of other chat widgets or embedded chat programs that we missed, be sure to list them in the comments.
Web Publishing: Create an Instant Web Site with Jottit
by Gina Trapani on 9/17/07
Webapp Jottit offers no-registration, one-click
wiki-style plus lots of neat advanced features. One part Twitter (just a text box), four parts wiki, Jottit supports special markup for links, images and videos and tracks page revisions. Once you create your first page on Jottit, you can pick a custom Jottit subdomain for your site (like gina.jottit.com), add new pages, and select page colors and fonts.
My favorite feature is Jottit's as-you-type page preview, a must-have feature while you learn the markup (hit the help tab for hints). You don't have to register to use Jottit, but you can set a password on your site to claim it as your own and require others to enter it before they edit or view it. Here's my two-page test Jottit site:
. Also, check out more about building Jottit
directly from developer Aaron Swartz
Live whiteboard collaboration with Scriblink
by Josh Lowensohn on 9/10/07
Looking for a quick way to pass along ideas with a few other folks? Check out
, a new site for whiteboarding and conference calling. Setup is dead simple--just load the page and give the service your name to get going. There's a half-page workspace to sketch and write down ideas, a full color pallet to differentiate each user, and an undo button that will let you get rid of every addition you've made. There's also built-in multi-user chat on the right-hand side. If you feel like talking, the service can set up a free conference line (using
) to dial in to, although this is in no way integrated into the shared workspace.
In case you feel like saving your work, just give it your e-mail address, and the site will give you a permalink to access it whenever you feel like it--although Scriblink doesn't have to hold on to your workspace forever. It promises two months minimum, but if it's important, you'd be wise to save a copy locally or e-mail to yourself.
Scriblink does have a few limitations. You can only have up to five people in a workspace at once, and the actual differentiation of who added what is limited to the color pallet, which means if users change their color and you weren't paying attention, you won't know who made the edit. I'd also like to see the service let you save your workplace as a JPEG or PDF file for easy archiving. If you're a small business looking for a more robust and scalable collaboration application, I'd recommend
Draw and chat on the same page with Scriblink--a free whiteboard collaboration application.
(Credit: CNET Networks)
10 Micro-Blogging Tools Compared
by Aidan Henry on 9/6/07
Micro-blogging is a term described
as "a form of blogging that allows users to write brief text updates (usually less than 200 characters) and publish them, either to be viewed by anyone or by a restricted group which can be chosen by the user". Several startups have witnessed phenomenal growth with micro-blogging services, most notably
. In addition, numerous social networks - including
- have integrated similar status update services. The space is hot and it's still heating up. So let's take a look at 10 of the key players.
is the key player in space and the company name is used synonymously with micro-blogging. The free service allows users to post status updates via SMS, e-mail, or web browser. What's more, Twitter has
an open platform
allowing third party developers to build on top of it.
recently launched a micro-blogging platform with added functionality. On top of messaging, users can quickly and easily share links, files, or events with any or all of his/her contacts. See our
in-depth review of Pownce
for more details.
is a very clean, slick micro-blogging platform. Its focus is on simplicity and elegance. Similar to Pownce, users can share a variety of things, including text, photos, quotes, links, chats, or even videos.
is considered by many to be Twitter's closest competitor. Most features and functions are similar. It will be interesting to see how the company plans to emerge from the shadow of its main rival.
is what it says. Instead of text updates, users call MySay and
how they are doing today. Then, friends or family can listen via phone, e-mail, or the web.
is a service for video microbloggers. A webcam and a mouse-click are all that is needed to create a videopost. This streamlined solution saves time and effort for traditional vloggers.
is a way to express your mood or current state of being. A sliding scale facilitates this process, while a quick text update completes the personalized service.
is also very similar to Twitter. The main difference is one of language. Frazr is focused primarily on the French and German markets.
allows you the ability to (yes, you guessed it) rate your day on a scale of 'Worst' to 'Great'. Users can also provide a short text update to accompany the rating.
is a way to gauge your happiness on a scale of 1-10 (decimals included). As the name touts, it is a way to express and share your emotions and feelings with those around you.
Micro-blogging isn't a short-term trend - it is here to stay. The evolution of blogging has spawned this new mini version of blogging and many are latching on. The simplicity and ability to post frequently are what attract most to the concept. We expect much faster adoption and mainstream penetration than blogging in general.
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